16 August 2011

Moving towards spring in our kitchen garden

I haven't written about our garden much lately but it's still here, happily bubbling away in the background, providing much of our fresh food. It's getting towards the end of winter here so we'll be planting a few more summer vegies now - increasing the number of potatoes, tomatoes, capsicums (peppers) and cucumbers.  We have a wonderful crop of Portuguese cabbage, grown for the first time this year from seeds sent to me by a permaculturalist in Melbourne. It's fast become my favourite cabbage. Hanno does a wonderful job in our garden. I love that he feeds the gardens so well between plantings and the quality of the food that comes out of that garden is a real credit to him and the work he puts into it.

These Pontiac potatoes were dug up last week.

The basket is usually filled with what we'll eat that day but I often grab the tomatoes to ripen indoors.

No matter what we do in the garden, the chooks are always watching, hoping for a bug to be thrown their way.

Two of our chickens died in the past week. They were old girls and we'll miss them. The rest of them - I think we have about six or seven chooks left - are keeping us in eggs, even though a couple of them are too old to lay regularly. Soon we'll start looking around for a few more ladies to join our family. After 30 years keeping chickens in the backyard, I can't imagine living without them now, and it would be impossible to live happily without good eggs. Whatever we give them - a safe home, good food, fresh water and love, they always give back more.

The empty spaces don't stay empty for long. To successfully plant for the table, you need to have seeds on the go most of the time, know how long they take to grow to maturity and keep on top of the bug population.

This garden has been weeded, raked over and had manure added. It's ready for planting.

Corn, Colossal tomatoes and lettuce.
Radishes, Welsh onions, kohl rabi, potatoes, Portuguese cabbage, tomatoes and silverbeet (chard).

The black kale plants (Cavolo nero) have grown really tall this year and as they've been harvested from below, they're started to look like palm trees.
The last of the turnips.
Bok choy, Daikon radishes and brussel sprouts.

It's always peaceful out there wandering down the green pathways between garden beds. Gardening, particularly vegetable and fruit gardening for the home is such a satisfying way to spend time. Plunging my hands into fertile soil connects me back to the natural world in a way nothing else can. We're lucky to have such a wonderful climate here and can produce food year round. It can be hard work, but as we get such wonderful harvests, we wouldn't have it any other way.

New lettuce beside lettuce waiting to be harvested. Such is the look of a productive garden.

Speaking of gardens, I received a gift from my editor at Penguin - Kitchen Gardens of Australia by Kate Herd gives a wonderful account of 18 local kitchen gardens, complete with garden plans, photos and the stories of the gardens and the people who work in them. It's interesting and inspiring and I can't wait to dive right into it. There are a number of people we Australians recognise - Jeremy Colby Williams' wonderful garden at his home, Bellis; the beautiful Gay Bilson's country kitchen garden as well as a self-sufficient garden on an historic Tasmania farm and a locavores' garden in the Red Centre, and much much more.  I'd been taking peaks into this book whenever I visited my local book shop, and I'm so pleased I now have a copy that I can relax with and read from cover to cover.

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